Rory Stewart is OUT of Tory leader battle as Boris storms on14 min read

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Rory Stewart crashed out of the Tory leadership battle tonight as Boris Johnson staged another surge in the third round of voting.

The Cabinet minister was dramatically axed from the contest after coming last with just 27 votes – down from 37 – leaving four hopefuls left to fight it out. 

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson picked up support from Dominic Raab, who was evicted yesterday, to increase his tally again from 126 to 143 – tightening his grip on the keys to Downing Street.  

Earlier it emerged that International Development Secretary Mr Stewart had offered to make Michael Gove Chancellor in a desperate bid to save himself.

However, the discussions between the pair seem to have gone nowhere as they both believe they should be the candidate to face off against Boris Johnson for the keys to Downing Street. 

Mr Gove secured four votes more than Mr Stewart in the ballot last night, coming third behind Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, and has dismissed calls to stand aside. 

Mr Hunt managed to keep his nose ahead of Mr Gove in second tonight, by 54 to 51.  

Mr Johnson – who is celebrating his 55th birthday – has been adding to his huge list of 126 supporters after Brexiteer Dominic Raab was knocked out yesterday.

Mr Raab had 30 votes, and pledged his support for Mr Johnson today saying he was the ‘only man to deliver Brexit on time’. His close allies Nadhim Zahawi and Andrea Jenkyns have also declared for Mr Johnson as he moves towards a seemingly inevitable victory. 

But the battle for the other places is still raging, with Mr Stewart and Mr Javid thought to be separated by just a few votes. They had 37 and 33 respectively in the previous ballot, but many MPs think the balance has shifted towards Mr Javid after he put in a strong showing in the TV debate last night. 

By contrast, Mr Stewart admitted after the debate that he had ‘struggled’, saying he found the format ‘frustrating’ and felt like they were in an ‘alternate reality’. 

Rory Stewart (pictured leaving TV studios in London today) declared he was in talks with Michael Gove about 'combining forces', saying he was determined the front runner should face a 'test' in the head-to-head

Rory Stewart (pictured leaving TV studios in London today) declared he was in talks with Michael Gove about ‘combining forces’, saying he was determined the front runner should face a ‘test’ in the head-to-head

Boris Johnson was spotted at Parliament after casting his vote in the third round of the Tory leadership contest today - as he tightens his grip on Downing Street

Boris Johnson was spotted at Parliament after casting his vote in the third round of the Tory leadership contest today – as he tightens his grip on Downing Street 

Mr Gove (pictured at Parliament this afternoon) secured four votes more than Mr Stewart in the ballot last night, and there is no sign he is ready to make way

Mr Gove (pictured at Parliament this afternoon) secured four votes more than Mr Stewart in the ballot last night, and there is no sign he is ready to make way

Home Secretary Sajid Javid posted a photo of himself voting in the Commons with some of his MP supporters this afternoon

Home Secretary Sajid Javid posted a photo of himself voting in the Commons with some of his MP supporters this afternoon

The BBC TV debate quickly descended into furious squabbling, with presenter Emily Maitlis struggling to keep control

The BBC TV debate quickly descended into furious squabbling, with presenter Emily Maitlis struggling to keep control

The Tory leadership candidates will be hoping to improve on their performance in last night's second round of voting (pictured) when MPs return to the ballot box today

The Tory leadership candidates will be hoping to improve on their performance in last night’s second round of voting (pictured) when MPs return to the ballot box today  

Earlier, Mr Hunt, who came second yesterday with 46 votes, swiped that he has no idea what Mr Johnson ‘believes’ on Brexit.

The Foreign Secretary delivered a stinging assault on Mr Johnson for lacking ‘judgement’ – suggesting he had not ‘thought through’ his position.

Sources had suggested Mr Hunt was resigned to being leapfrogged in this bout by Mr Gove, as he was more likely to gain from Mr Raab’s exit. However, in the event he managed to stay ahead.  

Interviewed on Sky News today, Mr Stewart said: ‘I feel it would be great to get into that final two, to persuade Sajid and Michael and Jeremy to join forces with me so that we can make sensible, reasonable arguments to keep our party together and keep our country together.’

Asked if he was ready to quit and back someone else, Mr Stewart said: ‘This is the problem. It is always the problem of politician’s egos. 

Boris comes under fire from ALL sides as he finally breaks cover in chaotic Tory leadership TV debate 

Boris Johnson was hammered over his Iran blunder, Muslim veil jibes and tax cuts for the wealthy in a bad-tempered and chaotic TV debate last night – but vowed he will take Britain out of the EU by Halloween.

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The former foreign secretary came under fire from all sides as he lined up alongside Rory Stewart, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid for the hour-long session at the BBC studios in London.

But no clear winner emerged, with viewers enraged at the way the candidates dodged questions, as well as the bizarre format set by the corporation. 

Buoyed by topping the ballot of MPs earlier, Mr Johnson kicked off proceedings by setting out his stall on Brexit, insisting the UK must leave the EU by the end of October. 

‘We must come out on the 31st October because otherwise I am afraid we face a catastrophic loss of confidence in politics,’ he said.

‘We have already kicked the can down the road twice and I think the British people are getting thoroughly fed up.’  

The exchanges quickly descended into furious squabbling, with presenter Emily Maitlis struggling to keep control as Mr Hunt and Mr Gove insisted they were ready to push the schedule back if a ‘few more days’ were needed to finalise a deal with the EU. 

Mr Stewart, who removed his tie as the debate heated up, accused his colleagues of ‘staring at the wall’ rather than walking through the ‘door’ – which was to support the deal Mrs May had already thrashed out over two years. ‘Let’s get on with it,’ he said, adding that No Deal was ‘not possible’.

‘I would say to them that I am massively out polling them with all the key target groups we need, with 18 to 45 year-olds, with Scotland, with London, and we have to think about how to win an election.’ 

Sources on Mr Stewart’s campaign said: ‘Any team that gets combined, Rory wants to lead it.’ 

Mr Johnson’s team is breathing a sigh of relief after he emerged relatively unscathed from the TV debate last night, despite being hammered over his Iran blunder, Muslim veil jibes and tax cuts for the wealthy.

The former foreign secretary came under fire from all sides as he lined up alongside second-placed Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Mr Stewart and Mr Javid Javid for the hour-long session at the BBC studios in London.

But no clear winner emerged, with viewers enraged at the way the candidates dodged questions, as well as the bizarre format set by the corporation.

The BBC is also facing a crisis over allowing an Imam to ask a question who has previous on social media blaming women for rape, praising Corbyn and attacking Jews.

Mr Johnson took the opportunity to set out his stall on Brexit, insisting the UK must leave the EU by the end of October. 

‘We must come out on the 31st October because otherwise I am afraid we face a catastrophic loss of confidence in politics,’ he said.

‘We have already kicked the can down the road twice and I think the British people are getting thoroughly fed up.’ 

He did fail to raise his hand when presenter Emily Maitlis asked the hopefuls to signal whether they would guarantee Brexit by October 31 – although aides insisted his position was clear.

Mr Hunt tried to capitalise on the apparent wavering today, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Well, I am not entirely sure what he believes on this, having listened to him last night.

‘You have to think these things through because prime ministers have to make these judgments.’  

Mr Hunt said he was best placed to cut a deal with Brussels on Brexit, implying that Mr Johnson would not be ‘trusted’ by Brussels.

‘We need a negotiator,’ he said. ‘A negotiator has to have three qualities. The first is it has to be someone the other side trust, because you don’t do a deal with somebody you don’t trust.

‘Secondly, it has got to be someone who doesn’t blink.

‘And thirdly, it has got to be somebody who is prepared to walk away.

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‘Now, the danger is that if we choose the wrong person now, we will have no trust, no negotiation, no deal, and possibly, if we have an election, no Brexit.’

The debate exchanges quickly descended into furious squabbling, with Maitlis struggling to keep control. 

Five million people tune into BBC debate 

The BBC’s Tory leadership debate was watched by more than five million viewers, it emerged today.

It drew an average of 5.3 million viewers and peaked at 5.7 million. 

According to the corporation, the hour-long broadcast from 8pm was the ‘best performing programme of the night across all channels’. 

Channel 4’s debate on Sunday averaged 1.3 million viewers and peaked at 1.5 million. 

It included five of the Tory hopefuls, including Dominic Raab who failed to reach the next stage in the voting process yesterday, with an empty lectern left for Mr Johnson who did not participate. 

It was hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy. 

Sky News had previously announced plans to host a live head-to-head debate with the final two candidates. It will be hosted by Kay Burley, but the date has not yet been announced. 

It has also been reported ITV News will host its own leadership debate, but details are not yet known. 

Mr Stewart, who bizarrely removed his tie as the row heated up, accused his colleagues of ‘staring at the wall’ rather than walking through the ‘door’ – which was to support the deal Mrs May had already thrashed out over two years. ‘Let’s get on with it,’ he said, adding that No Deal was ‘not possible’.

Under intense attack from all his rivals, Mr Johnson appeared to back off his plans to hand a £10billion tax cut to higher earners. He said the idea would merely start a ‘debate’ and be part of a wider ‘package’. 

He was also challenged on his handling of the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – the British mother held prisoner in Iran – while foreign secretary, as well as previous remarks comparing Muslim women in veils to ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letter boxes’. Mr Johnson said he was sorry if anything he had written over ’25-30 years when I was a journalist’ had caused offence. 

And he blustered when a questioner demanded to know whether he would fulfil his previous vow to ‘lie down in front of bulldozers’ to stop Heathrow airport expansion going ahead. 

Mr Stewart had been scrambling to hold on to the momentum he had built up by surging from just 19 votes in the first round to 37 in the second.

By contrast, Mr Javid was seen as putting on a strong performance, and toughened his stance on Brexit. He will be hoping to pick up some support from the 30 MPs who had supported Mr Raab. 

The BBC said the debate was watched by more than five million viewers.

It drew an average of 5.3 million viewers and peaked at 5.7 million. According to the corporation, the hour-long broadcast from 8pm was the ‘best performing programme of the night across all channels’. 

Channel 4’s debate on Sunday averaged 1.3 million viewers and peaked at 1.5 million. 

It included five of the Tory hopefuls, including Dominic Raab who failed to reach the next stage in the voting process yesterday, with an empty lectern left for Mr Johnson who did not participate. 

It was hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy. 

Sky News had previously announced plans to host a live head-to-head debate with the final two candidates. It will be hosted by Kay Burley, but the date has not yet been announced. 

It has also been reported ITV News will host its own leadership debate, but details are not yet known. 

Mr Raab (pictured in Westminster today) has pledged his support for Mr Johnson saying he was the 'only man to deliver Brexit on time'

Mr Raab (pictured in Westminster today) has pledged his support for Mr Johnson saying he was the ‘only man to deliver Brexit on time’

Mr Stewart and Sajid Javid (pictured on ITV's GMB programme today) are both trying to avoid being the next to be kicked out of the Tory contest tonight

Mr Stewart and Sajid Javid (pictured on ITV’s GMB programme today) are both trying to avoid being the next to be kicked out of the Tory contest tonight

Girls’ school suspend Imam who attacked Boris during BBC debate after tweets of his emerged blaming women for rape, praising Corbyn and attacking Jews  

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An Imam and deputy headteacher who quizzed the Tory leadership candidates on the BBC has been suspended from his school after a series of controversial tweets were unearthed.

Abdullah Patel, who probed the contenders vying to be the next PM was today exposed as an anti-Semite who posted messages praising Jeremy Corbyn and blaming women for rape.

The series of vile posts were exposed moments after the debate on BBC One, in which he asked the Tory MPs on their views on Islamophobia and whether they believed ‘words have consequences.’ 

The corporation today refused to apologise and said the tweets were ‘not visible’ when they vetted him – however it has emerged that he was tweeting from the account just two days before the debate.  

A series of vile posts by Abdullah Patel were unearthed last night moments after the BBC debate

A series of vile posts by Abdullah Patel were unearthed last night moments after the BBC debate

Today Yakub Patel, Chair of Al-Madani Education Trust which runs Al-Ashraf Primary School in Gloucester, where Patel is a deputy headteacher said he had been suspended.

In a statement, he said: ‘Following some of the comments attributed to Mr Patel in the media this morning, the Trust has decided to suspend him from all school duties with immediate effect until a full investigation is carried out.

‘The ‘school’ and ‘Trust’ do not share the views attributed to him.’ 

In one tweet Patel he appeared to suggest women are to blame for rape, writing: ‘Lets make something clear: Generally, men are the predators, but women need to realise this and be smarter.  

‘It takes 2 to tango, and if you put yourself in that position, don’t expect every man to pass up the opportunity to take advantage of you. Don’t be alone with a man! ‘ 

Patel, listed on a Gloucester schools directory as being the deputy headteacher of the Al-Ashraf Primary School, also showed his support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He wrote: Vote UKLabour Vote JeremyCorbyn Vote for hopenotfear Vote for TheManyNottheFew. If you vote Tory you deserve all the cuts you get to tbh.’

Others showed his anti-Semitic views, with one post featuring a graphic once retweeted by Labour MP Naz Shah that saw her suspended by the Labour party in 2016.

Who were the winners and losers from the bad-tempered Tory leader showdown? 

By JACK DOYLE, Associate Editor

BORIS JOHNSON 

Best moment: Emphatic on Brexit. We must leave on October 31 or else the public will ‘look on us with increasing mystification’.

Worst moment: Grilled over his blunder on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe while Foreign Secretary. Claimed his words ‘didn’t make a difference’ to her sentence.

Verdict: Endured a few dicey moments when pressed by Emily Maitlis. No clear catastrophic blunder which could derail his campaign.

Up or down? No change

JEREMY HUNT 

Best moment: Brutal barb at Rory Stewart for rejecting No Deal outright. ‘You’re the no Brexit candidate.’

Worst moment: Invoking his mixed-race children in an attempt to divert from a question about Donald Trump.

Verdict: Belatedly turned his fire on his biggest threat, Rory Stewart, but struggled to cut through.

Up or down? Down 

RORY STEWART 

Best moment: Branded the social care system a ‘disgrace’ and a ‘scandal’. ‘It’s the great unfinished revolution in our society.’

Worst moment: Ostentatiously taking off his tie and stretching. Bizarre.

Verdict: A bad night. Coming under fire from other candidates for the first time, he struggled. Has the Rory bubble burst?

Up or down? Down

MICHAEL GOVE 

Best moment: Took apart Rory Stewart’s Brexit plan with a single line. ‘We can’t simply re-present the same old cold porridge and ask people to say that’s what they want.’

Worst moment: Struggled to explain his policy of scrapping VAT and replacing it with a sales tax.

Verdict: Articulate, intelligent and impassioned. Had a good night, but will it turn the dial?

Up or down? Up

SAJID JAVID 

Best moment: Hammered Rory Stewart on his failure to criticise President Trump.

Worst moment: Trying to explain how money would solve Brexit problems at the Irish border.

Verdict: Comfortably had the best night. More composed, coherent and passionate than before. But is it too late?

Up or down? Up